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Giving Green (Space)

Philanthropist Patty Brutten is the brains behind the open-space finder

By Sarah Sapeda

Opening doors for San Diego youth has long been a priority for philanthropist Patty Brutten. The Del Mar resident and her husband, real estate investor Marc Brutten, have supported a lot of great causes over the years, including child advocacy nonprofit Voices for Children, helping foster teens at San Pasqual Academy go to college, and funding scholarships at Boston College, where two of their three children went. But they really wanted to do something to benefit the community as a whole.

“We felt like the younger population is nature deprived,” Patty says. “We wanted to find a way to get through to them via their devices, yet motivate them or assist them in getting outside.” Several philanthropists have backed efforts to increase access to the outdoors, especially in park-poor communities, but the Bruttens went a step further. “Let’s develop a website anybody can go to and find a place near them where they can get outside and have fun,” Patty proposed.

They enlisted the nonprofit GreenInfo Network to create, supported by their Brutten Family Fund at the San Diego Foundation. The website aggregates information on more than 1,100 local open spaces and employs geolocation to identify the ones closest to the user. Users can also sort open spaces by desired activity, get directions and maps, and share their favorite spots via social media.

“We want to help kids play outside and connect with nature and feel better inside,” Patty says. She credits the San Diego Foundation for taking the busywork out of philanthropy, working side-by-side with the Bruttens’ personal charity and narrowing the focus of their giving to a few hot- button areas: kids, education, and the environment. “When you’re fortunate enough to have so much, you really have to look at life and give back.”

Giving Green (Space)

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